Ho­tel set for spring open­ing

Coun­cil ap­proves change in room count

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

The de­vel­oper of the ho­tel un­der con­struc­tion at the cor­ner of Ogle­town Road and Capi­tol Trail is aim­ing for a spring open­ing af­ter city coun­cil be­grudg­ingly signed off on an amended spe­cial-use per­mit last week.

The new per­mit, which changes the num­ber of rooms from 125 to 132, cor­rects an er­ror in the way the num­ber of rooms was cal­cu­lated but does not change the floor plan or square footage of the build­ing.

Work never stopped on the project, but de­vel­oper Dan­ne­man Hos­pi­tal­ity es­sen­tially had to go though the de­vel­op­ment ap­proval process a sec­ond time, seek­ing ap­proval from the board of ad­just­ment, plan­ning com­mis­sion and city coun­cil.

“There were mis­takes on both sides that were cor­rected,” Ge­orge Dan­ne­man said last week. “We’re happy it’s be­hind us.”

The ini­tial plan for the Mar­riott Spring Hill Suites, ap­proved in May 2016, called for 125 rooms, seven of which were two-room suites. How­ever, when Dan­ne­man sub­mit­ted more de­tailed build­ing plans ear­lier this year, the city plan­ning depart­ment de­ter­mined that each suite was ac­tu­ally two ad­ja­cent rooms con­nected by a door that can be locked to al­low the rooms to be rented sep­a­rately.

“This in­creased the to­tal room count from 125 to 132 rooms that could be rented at any given time — ex­ceed­ing the amount of rooms ap­proved by coun­cil in the spe­cial-use per­mit and re­quir­ing seven ad­di­tional off­street park­ing spa­ces to be pro­vided on site,” city plan­ner Mike Fort­ner wrote in a memo to coun­cil.

At an Aug. 28 coun­cil meet­ing, Dan­ne­man and his at­tor­ney de­scribed the prob­lem as an er­ror in in­ter­pret­ing city code.

“There have been no ma­te­rial changes to our plans. We’re plan­ning ex­actly what we promised we would build,” Dan­ne­man said. “Unfortunately, as with ma­jor projects, some mi­nor in­ter­pre­ta­tions and in­con­sis­ten­cies in our zon­ing process have oc­curred.”

Stephen Kessler, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Dan­ne­man Hos­pi­tal­ity, said the project is com­plex.

“It’s not ev­ery day you build a ho­tel. We, in fact, have never built a ho­tel,” Kessler said. “You’re bound to have in­ter­pre­ta­tion is­sues like this come up.”

Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved the amended spe­cial-use per­mit and ma­jor sub­di­vi­sion agree­ment, but not be­fore some mem­bers chas­tised Dan­ne­man and Kessler.

“I’m per­son­ally dis­pleased and up­set with your dis­po­si­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion tonight,” Coun­cil­man Luke Chap­man said. “I think the com­ments and the at­ti­tude are in­cred­i­bly dis­re­spect­ful to this body and I be­lieve that your com­ments were a lit­tle mis­lead­ing in terms of dis­crep­an­cies and in­ter­pre­ta­tions. The fact of the mat­ter is the onus is on that of the ap­pli­cant to be com­pletely pre­pared and or­ga­nized.”

Coun­cil­man Stu Markham, too, pointed out coun­cil’s dis­plea­sure.

“If you no­tice the frowns up here it’s be­cause, at least for me, I don’t like to see a project come back. It’s hard to ex­plain to con­stituents,” he said.

Ear­lier this year, the board of ad­just­ment agreed to ex­pand the ho­tel’s park­ing vari­ance by seven spa­ces, for a to­tal of 43. Dan­ne­man plans to rent park­ing spa­ces from neigh­bor­ing Aetna Hose Hook and Lad­der Com­pany to use for em­ployee park­ing.

Con­struc­tion of the ho­tel be­gan in the spring and as of last week, the fram­ing was largely com­plete and crews were in­stalling wiring, plumb­ing and HVAC ducts. By Oc­to­ber, the ex­te­rior walls will be com­plete and work­ers will spend the win­ter do­ing in­te­rior con­struc­tion.

“We’re excited about all the hard work that has been done on­site,” Dan­ne­man said Aug. 30 as he toured the build­ing.

The land has been in Dan­ne­man’s fam­ily since his grand­fa­ther moved his fab­ric store there in 1976. Af­ter the fab­ric store closed in the late 1990s, the fam­ily leased the prop­erty to Ne­wark Toy­ota World, which moved to Cleve­land Av­enue in 2014.

“It feels pretty sur­real,” Dan­ne­man said of re­de­vel­op­ing the prop­erty. “It re­flects what Delaware as a whole is do­ing. We’ve had to pivot and re­flect the chang­ing econ­omy.

The 2.3-acre site will also con­tain a stand­alone restau­rant, the ten­ant for which Dan­ne­man said will be an­nounced soon.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Work is un­der­way on the Mar­riott SpringHill Suites ho­tel on Ogle­town Road, which will open next spring.

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